8 Replies Latest reply: May 12, 2011 9:16 PM by paulpen
Steven Jones Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)
I have recently obtained a DP 2.3GHz G5 XServe. Before it gets used as a server (if ever), I wish to generally play around with it, try things out, etc., while learning. As part of this whole process, I would like to try running it as a normal computer. Apart from the obvious loss of server features, are there any adverse side-effects, risks, etc. involved with installing a standard version of Mac OS X - in this case, 10.4.11 - on this XServe. I'm fairly sure that there would be no potential for hardware damage. I have found a PCI video card which works with it, so any experimenting will be done on the machine, as opposed to remotely on a "headless" server. I'm just wondering if the XServe actually needs the server version of the OS or whether it can quite happily run any Mac OS X version which can be installed on it. It does boot quite OK from a standard Mac OS X 10.4 Install DVD, but I have not yet tried installing because of the hard drive needing to be replaced (still waiting for the new one to arrive). All comments are eagerly anticipated, especially those based on experience of having done something similar. How would this machine, running the normal version of the OS, compare with a "normal" desktop DP 2.3GHz G5?

PowerMac G4 DP 1.25 GHz - sys 10.4.11, Quadra 700 - sys 7.0.1•
  • ClassicII Level 3 Level 3 (835 points)
    You can run the regular client just fine on an Xserve.

    The only thing is some features will not work. For example the blue cpu lights will not function.

    But it will work just fine.

    I triple boot mine with 10.5 server, 10.6 server and 10.6 regular os. I even had 10.7 beta working on it the other day.
  • Camelot Level 8 Level 8 (46,120 points)
    How would this machine, running the normal version of the OS, compare with a "normal" desktop DP 2.3GHz G5?


    In short, unless you look at the physical box, you won't notice any difference. It's still a Mac, after all.

    If you neither need nor want the Server OS extras you're not obliged to use them. However, the XServe's physical dimensions make it a poor desktop option, but that's about the only downside.
  • MrHoffman Level 6 Level 6 (12,980 points)
    ...but that's about the only downside.


    Xserve boxes also tend to be loud(er) than other Mac boxes.
  • Steven Jones Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)
    Yes, the noise level and the dimensions will be the important factors when it comes to choosing a location - somewhere a little out of the way but without restricting access and ventilation too much.

    I have managed to purchase a genuine, unused, original Apple 80GB ADM which will be used as the boot drive. There should be no hardware recognition problems with that.

    The original 80GB hard drive, in its ADM module, is non-functional, so I will be replacing it with a much larger SATA drive, which I will probably have to jumper to 1.5 Gb/s. If this drive has trouble being recognized in the ADM caddy, I can always stick it in an external drive enclosure and access it via FireWire.
  • Steven Jones Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)
    One, possibly important, question regarding the hard drive cables. This XServe has a RAID card which might be faulty - I don't know yet - as it beeped very loudly and continuously when I started it up. However, this might have been a result of the dead hard drive not wanting to work, or maybe the battery needs re-charging. Among the various things I wish to try will be running the hard drive cables direct to the built-in hard drive controller board (ie not using the RAID card). I can obtain the necessary short, 3-headed SATA cable which is removed when using the RAID card with its longer cables. If I decide to go back to using the RAID card (and all the required formatting, setting-up, etc.) I will need to plug the three cables into the correct sockets on the RAID card. There are four ports: 0, 1, 2, & 3. I have consulted two of Apple's own PDF manuals: "Xserve G5 (Service Source)" and "Xserve G5 PCI Hardware RAID Card User’s Guide". Page 16 of the first-mentioned manual clearly shows the three cables plugged into ports 1, 2 & 3, with port 0 being empty and says "Connect the three RAID card cables as illustrated". The second manual, on page 15, shows the cables plugged into ports 0, 1 & 2 and specifically warns against using port 3: "Important: Do not connect any cable to port 3. This port cannot be used." and also "Warning: Be sure to connect the cables exactly as described here or unreliable operation may result."

    Apple's own documentation contradicts itself. Which is correct? Does it matter?
  • Steven Jones Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)
    Well! The service source PDF I had consulted was the October 11, 2004 version. I found an updated version (March 11, 2005) which has changed the pictures and description on page 16 to match the RAID card manual. At least now I can sleep in peace on that matter.

    However, I think the two FireWire 800 ports on the back of the XServe are dead. I have tried resetting the PMU (CUDA button) and PRAM, Open Firmware (reset-nvram, set-defaults & reset-all), starting in Safe Mode, and have tried a known good drive using known good cables in a known good external casing which has USB, FW400 and FW800 ports. This external drive shows up when connected via USB, FW400 (into the FW400 port on the front), and also from the hard drive's FW800 port via a FW800 to FW400 adapter cable going into the front FW400 port on the XServe. The only way it does not show up is via a FW800 cable from the drive's FW800 port to either of the FW800 ports on the back of the XServe.

    I think I have covered most of the usual troubleshooting options. Is there anything I can try in Terminal? Might there be a connector (for the FW800 ports) somewhere inside the XServe which could have become unplugged sometime in the past (before I acquired it)? System Profiler shows the FireWire Bus as having a maximum speed of 800 Mb/sec, but it also show "Unknown Device" even when nothing is plugged into any of the FireWire ports. Disk Utility shows nothing. I have also tried booting from an internal drive with OS X Server (10.4.11) installed, just in case there was something in the "normal" version of the OS software that might be affecting things. I observed no difference.

    I can live without FW800 but it would be nice to have it available if possible. Does anyone have any ideas on other hardware or software approaches to try? It's not worth replacing the logic board (if that's what is required) - I may as well put that cost toward something more up to date. Is there any diagnostic software, similar to the hardware test disc's for eMac's and other models, which will work on an XServe? I have had a brief look at the XServe Remote Diagnostics, and it is very technical (command line stuff, NetBoot, extra computer needed, etc.) compared with booting from a CD/DVD.
  • paulpen Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)

    Oooh, 10.7 beta.... hee hee, that's impressive. Oh, wait..... the original question regarded a *G5* Xserve, which is what i have too. And it can never EVER run 10.6, much less 10.7.  Those are intel only. 

  • paulpen Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)

    Huh, once again i can't edit my own friggin post (above). It came out sounding a bit snottier than i intended, but then it is annoying to have people bragging about beta testing the very latest software--which WON'T EVEN RUN ON A G5 and never will.  Apple: maybe you can restore the "edit" feature to these forums..? Thanks!